One year ago, I sat down to write about how the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly became the story and the focus of all our lives. It was an easy piece to write. Personally, and professionally – I was full of thoughts, emotions, and ideas. You can read it here.
In contrast, sitting down to write this follow-up proved to be more difficult. Over the last few weeks, I have been fighting writer’s block - writing and rewriting. The process of putting together this new piece has involved a lot of reflecting. I have analyzed again and again the words that I wrote last year.
I finally realized the difficulty has come from two things: fatigue and repetition.
As a journalist – who also has a Bachelor of Arts in history – I am trained and accustomed to look at what is happening and to infer what might come.
So although I was clearly aware of what was to come I didn’t realize that living through it would be so exhausting. Hence the fatigue. And like almost everyone by now I have become accustomed to the ‘new normals’ the pandemic brought on. Thinking about how our lives were about to change back then involved novelty. Now, we are dealing with sameness. It’s no longer new, it’s routine at best, and monotonous at worst. Hence the repetition.
But, during it all my craft has kept me going.
Like you, my dear colleagues, I have been reporting on it all. From day one, I have been out in the field, in the Miami market, where I report nightside for the NBC O&O.
Last year, I wrote about changes to the news gathering process, about holding onto our calling and about this renewed feeling of professional importance that I was experiencing: "Journalism’s part in all this will surely be documented. I have found purpose in knowing that what we are doing as journalists could be our revival. Perhaps this is the beginning of the public’s newfound need for us.”
It proved to be true (see how here and here). In television news, we have seen and fed the demand.
For me, meeting that demand become more of a challenge as the reality of the pandemic lingered; the fatigue and repetition started to become a daily battle. And so, to keep going I leaned into the intimate stories in my community. I leaned into my craft – words, sounds and pictures- and told the best and most people-focused stories every chance I got.
The stories of death, fear, financial hardship and depression pulled at the optimism that is my natural disposition, but not at my energy. I have kept my energy in reporting because I have continued to feel the calling of journalism. Through the fatigue and repetition, I have continued to feel the responsibility that comes with our job. And through my craft I have found such strength in the ability to amplify the local voices in my community while capturing a time that will go down in history.
I have had my share of personal hardships in this pandemic – like losing sleep and catching COVID. Through those hardships, I continued to do what was required as a journalist. I always knew that I loved my work but true love, I think, involves commitment through the hardest times. Looking back, throughout this year, I have done some of my best work on some of my hardest days. Proving my commitment to journalism to myself. I see maturity in my reporting over the last year. I see growth.
And I am proud. I am proud of myself. I am equally proud of my fellow journalists.
Last year, I wrote in foresight: “I know firsthand it is hard to be truly engaged in this work with all the noise around you, but think about it this way, my dear colleagues: Our purpose is what we are living right now, as COVID-19 is at everyone’s front door.”
This year, I am writing in hindsight to you my dear colleagues; I know it’s been difficult but I have seen such great work from so many of you.
We have delivered not only on a health story, but on major stories and headlines all under the umbrella of an unprecedented health crisis.
We have, in my opinion, lived up to our calling. And, we are still doing it, in spite of the fatigue and repetition.